The National Mark

In 1934, the Ministry of Agriculture published a recipe collection based on ingredients produced to National Mark standards, a fundamentally flawed quality assurance scheme overseen by the ministry. In 1936, the ministry went on to publish a second National Mark booklet with a year’s worth of recipes and product information, couched in the most toe-curling and sexist language imaginable.

The National Mark Calendar of Cooking is a 128-page stapled booklet, published in 1936. It contained recipes compiled by cookery correspondent of the News Chronicle, Ambrose Heath and Good Housekeeping Institute director Mrs D D Cottington Taylor.

It addressed an affluent upper class readership, heaping unstinting praise on British-grown food and overlooking the fact that the UK depended — and still does in large measure — on imported food. As the rest of Europe prepared for war, the National Mark Calendar warbled and wittered on endlessly about products that were only available to a rich elite.

Recipes for June include such gems as semolina souflee and poached eggs in aspic.The souflee recipe gives instructions for cooking the dish in a hot oven or a steamer, should a suitable oven be unavailable.

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